Protection of the Constitution in Saxony: Observe the right wing with a legally secure approach

The Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution collected data on AfD MPs. It was said at first that it was illegal. But it is obviously not that clear.

Had to go because of the AfD data collection: Gordian Meyer-Plath Foto: Ralph Koehler/propicture

DRESDEN taz | In Saxony, there is still a dispute about the handling of the fact that the Saxon constitutional protection has collected publicly available data on AfD members of the state parliament. At the beginning of July, the President of the State Office Gordian Meyer-Plath was replaced by his supervisor in the Ministry of the Interior, Dirk-Martin Christian. It is illegal to collect the data, so the allegation. Allegations that were probably at least partially wrongly raised, as indications from the Parliamentary Control Commission (PKK) of the state parliament now indicate.

“The examination of the legality of the storage of MPs’ data” is “an ongoing process that has not yet been completed,” LfV spokeswoman Patricia Vernhold said on request. But even the AfD parliamentary group has still not filed its loudly announced complaint against its observation after almost four months. The AfD, otherwise never embarrassed, does not answer questions about the reasons for this delay.

In other groups it is suspected that the AfD does not want to risk the public naming of suspicious people, which is likely in the case of a lawsuit. The alleged Saxon observation affair had also acquired particular importance because of the observation of the right wing “wing” of the AfD by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The “wing”, which has now formally dissolved, has a particularly large number of supporters in Saxony.

It was not until the beginning of October that the state office classified the Dresden judge and member of the Bundestag Jens Maier as right-wing extremist. The main reason for the delays is likely to be the interpretable legal situation. It is only unambiguous when using intelligence services, which, according to the Saxon constitutional protection law, the state parliament president must agree to. The PKK stated in September that no such secret service observation of AfD MPs took place. Only public statements and activities were collected.

Still other AfDler in the sights?

But that was also the case with today’s Thuringian Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left), who had successfully sued against his long-term observation during his time as a member of the Bundestag until 2009. According to the Federal Constitutional Court at the time, this violated the high value of the free exercise of mandate. Monitoring is only justified in individual cases if a mandate holder is “actively and aggressively” fighting the free-democratic basic order.

The Saxon Ministry of the Interior and the authority of the data protection officer Andreas Schurig tend to orientate themselves on this current case law of the constitutional court. The only specific guideline issued by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution on dealing with members of parliament is only intended for official use and is not publicly available.

The Saxon State Office only took over him when the new President took office. It therefore depends on the justification to what extent such a data collection serves to ward off anti-constitutional efforts.

“For a legally viable assessment, you need sufficient analytical expertise,” says Valentin Lippmann, who is a member of the five-member PKK for the Greens. There was a lack of that. The PKK, which is bound to secrecy, also announced that such legally secure records could now be provided for some AfD MPs and not for others – and that other MPs were targeted during the examination. Perhaps that is why the AfD has lost its lust for complaint. The PKK wants to make a final statement in November.

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Andreas Kalbitz remains in the AfD parliamentary group: play along despite party exclusion

The Brandenburg AfD parliamentary group decides that Andreas Kalbitz remains part of the parliamentary group. However, he should no longer be the chairman.

Andreas Kalbitz on Monday in front of the press Photo: Fabrizio Bensch / reuters

BERLIN taz | The majority of the mood of the AfD MPs in Brandenburg was already evident on Facebook before the special meeting of the parliamentary group on Monday afternoon. About a third of the 23 mandate holders there had openly spoken in favor of the previous parliamentary and party leader, Andreas Kalbitz, whose party membership had been revoked by the federal executive on Friday.

“I stand by our group leader even if he went through a youth camp in lederhosen,” wrote Michael Hanko, for example, about Kalbitz’s supposed membership in the neo-Nazi club Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend, which was the reason for his expulsion.

The MPs translated this mood into a resolution at their meeting in Potsdam. Accordingly, Andreas Kalbitz should also be part of the parliamentary party. With great merhehit, 18 out of 21 votes, he was reinstated in the faction. Kalbitz himself subsequently spoke of a “harmonious course of the meeting” and said: “So I’m a member of the group again.”

However, he is no longer its chairman: “I left out the question of the chair until a point in time when legal clarification has taken place,” said Kalbitz. There should initially not be a new parliamentary leader. Instead, Parliamentary Managing Director Dennis Hohloch takes over on a provisional basis. The party’s national presidency is suspended.

Defeat for Meuthen

Kalbitz announced that he would contest his exclusion under civil and arbitration law. The decision had “enormous split potential” for the party. He further denies having been a member of the neo-Nazi organization Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ), which was banned in 2009. Photos of Kalbitz in 2007 in an HDJ Pentecostal camp appeared last year. A membership application for a “Andreas Kalbitz family” has been received by the protection of the constitution, but not by the AfD.

However, it could be problematic for party leader Jörg Meuthen and the six other board members who voted to withdraw the membership of the influential representative of the officially dissolved wing that Kalbitz’s application to join the AfD in 2013 has disappeared. This could prove that Kalbitz did not disclose his HDJ membership and thus violated the party statutes. But there are said to be witnesses from the time who confirm his wrongdoing.

The decision of the Brandenburg faction is a defeat for Meuthen and his allies. It intensifies the power struggle in the party. Several East German state associations had previously sided with Kalbitz. The head of the Sachsen-AfD, Jörg Urban, demanded that the expulsion be reviewed by an arbitration tribunal. The Thuringian state chairman Björn Höcke had said: “Anyone who takes up arguments from opponents of the party and turns them against party friends commits betrayal of the party.”

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Power struggle in the AfD: Meuthen’s daring announcement

The Kalbitz expulsion is not only well received within the party. Jörg Meuthen makes himself the worst enemy of the “wing”.

He doesn’t want to give up that quickly: Brandenburg’s shot AfD boss Kalbitz Photo: Michael Sohn / ap

Andreas Kalbitz is a right-wing extremist, as recently confirmed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The numerous evidence of this have been known for years. In the AfD, hardly anyone was bothered by this for a long time. Kalbitz, a gifted string puller and successful campaigner, was not only the head of state and parliamentary group in Brandenburg, but also a member of the party’s federal executive board. Party leader Jörg Meuthen let Kalbitz and his “wing” elect him into office and pacted with him for a long time.

The fact that Meuthen is now taking action against Kalbitz has less to do with new knowledge about his right-wing extremist biography or refined political insights, but rather with tactical and pragmatic reasons. The “wing”, which was finally formally dissolved, has become more and more powerful within the party and has turned to Meuthen’s competitor Alice Weidel.

Party officials, especially from the western federal states, who consider themselves moderate, threatened to withdraw support from the party leader if he finally did nothing. After the decision of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the fear grew, particularly in the West, that the party as a whole could be classified by the authority as an extreme right-wing “suspected case”, which in turn could frighten some of the voters and expel officials from among the members.

In addition, the authority provided Meuthen with evidence that Kalbitz was a member of the neo-Nazi organization Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ). Because Kalbitz had concealed HDJ membership when the party joined, the Federal Executive Board was able to withdraw his party membership with immediate effect with a simple majority.

Splitting not excluded

Despite all the pacting, one should not underestimate the importance of the Kalbitz case: Meuthen has – at least temporarily – overthrown the most influential man of the “wing”. And thus started a power struggle in the AfD, which may not have existed since 2015. At the time, ex-party leader Bernd Lucke ultimately humiliated the party.

For Meuthen, this poses several major risks. If Kalbitz successfully contests his expulsion, which is quite possible, the party leader can resign. If this is not the case, the “wing” will do everything to overthrow Meuthen. Whether Meuthen survives this power struggle politically or whether it ends like Lucke or Frauke Petry is difficult to assess. The same applies to the question of how far right the AfD will be in the end. Even a split including the creation of a “Lega Ost” no longer seems to be impossible.

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Power struggle in the AfD: Höcke relies on rebellion

After the expulsion of Andreas Kalbitz, his allies party leader Meuthen announce the fight. Kalbitz’s membership application has disappeared.

Pretty best friends: Andreas Kalbitz and Björn Höcke at the AfD election party in Erfurt Photo: Jens Büttner / dpa

BERLIN taz | After the previous head of Brandenburg and faction Andreas Kalbitz was kicked out, his supporters from the “wing” party leader Jörg Meuthen declared the fight openly. “I will not allow the division and destruction of our party – and I know that our members and our voters see it as I do,” said Björn Höcke, Thuringian country and parliamentary leader, in a video on Facebook.

He spoke of “treason” and named Meuthen and the deputy party leader Beatrix von Storch by name. He also accused them of wanting to make the AfD a “majority procurer for the CDU”. Höcke and Kalbitz are the leaders of the “wing”, which has meanwhile been officially dissolved, and which the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified as extreme right in March.

On Friday, the AfD federal executive board with a narrow majority of seven votes – including those from Meuthen and von Storch – Kalbitz revoked AfD membership because when he joined the party in 2013, he retired from the neo-Nazi organization Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ) and had not stated among the Republicans who were being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution at the time. According to the statutes, however, he should have done so.

Kalbitz, who was previously a member of the federal executive board, has long admitted his former membership with the Republicans. However, he continues to deny that he was a member of the HDJ. Kalbitz has announced that it will take legal action at all levels against the decision, which was made at Meuthen’s request. In a video, he also called on his followers to stay in the party.

Fast federal party conference required

As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reports, however, Kalbitz’s application to join the AfD can no longer be found. This means that the document that Kalbitz’s offense is supposed to prove is missing. But there are supposed to be witnesses from the time who confirm this. The actual proof of Kalbitz’s HDJ membership is not available to the AfD itself. The decision is based on a report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, according to which not only Kalbitz but his entire family was a member of the HDJ.

“I see black for a legal dispute,” said party vice-president Stephan Brandner, who is also a federal deputy from Thuringia, on the sidelines of the board meeting. Brandner, like Alice Weidel and Meuthen’s co-boss Tino Chrupalla, had voted against the motion. Brandner already called for a quick federal party conference on Friday.

In the meantime, the demands for this are increasing from the “wing” environment. Among other things, hashtags such as #MeuthenMussWeg and sayings such as “We stand by Andreas Kalbitz” call for an extraordinary federal election. There is even a call for Meuthen to be kicked out of the party immediately because of behavior that damages the party.

Jürgen Pohl, like Brandner Member of the Bundestag from Thuringia and also a close confidant to Höcke, published a photo montage with the heads of the eight members of the Federal Executive Board who voted in favor of Meuthen’s proposal on Friday under the heading “We are splitters!” Member of the Bundestag Frank Pasemann wrote on Facebook: “Meuthen & Co. undermine principles of the rule of law in order to exclude a deserved party friend.”

It is bubbling in the AfD

Chrupalla, Meuthen’s co-boss, is now attacking him openly. “Rule of law principles must also exist in intra-party conflicts,” wrote Chrupalla on Twitter. “Those who trample them just to harm opponents within the party in this way fraternize with the political opponent.”

Even for the AfD, which often fights with hard bandages, this is strong tobacco. And reminds of clashes within the AfD leadership at the end of the tenure of the ex-party leaders of Bernd Lucke and Frauke Petry, who both left the AfD.

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Head of the AfD Brandenburg: Things are getting closer for Kalbitz

The AfD right wing admitted that he was probably on a list by the Nazi organization HDJ. He continues to deny membership.

Salami tactician: Andreas Kalbitz Photo: Hannibal Hanschke / reuters

BERLIN taz | The case is clear for the protection of the constitution. AfD right winger Andreas Kalbitz was a member of the now banned neo-Nazi organization Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend, HDJ for short. The Federal Office has proof of this, said Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution Jörg Müller a few days ago in an interview with the taz: “An HDJ member entry of a ‘Family Andreas Kalbitz’ from 2007 with the number 01330.”

Now Kalbitz, head of the AfD-Brandenburg and so far one of the leaders of the supposedly disbanded “wing”, has at least admitted that it is “possible and likely” that his name will be listed on a “list of interested parties or contacts” of the HDJ. So it is, as Kalbitz confirmed the taz, in a statement from him to the AfD federal board. The research network of WDR, NDR and Süddeutscher Zeitung had first reported on the letter.

At the end of March, after the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had classified the “wing” as right-wing extremist, the AfD federal executive had asked Kalbitz to provide a list of the political organizations and associations in which he was a member or with whom he had been in contact. The Federal Executive Board had also requested the corresponding annual figures and explanations of the type of connection.

Membership in the HDJ, which, among other things, wanted to attract a new National Socialist elite in its camps, could mean Kalbitz’s political end in the AfD. Then, according to numerous party officials, it was no longer tenable. In terms of form too, exclusion in this case would be significantly less complicated than usual. Kalbitz would have had to indicate membership in the AfD party. Because he did not do this, the Federal Executive Board could withdraw his party membership by a simple majority – a mostly lengthy party exclusion process would then no longer be necessary. Kalbitz would be rid of all office immediately.

Kalbitz only admits what cannot be denied

But Kalbitz continues to deny that he was a member of the HDJ. He also sued the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), he told the taz on Wednesday. Domestic intelligence has refused to give him the “alleged evidence”, but he is now taking action. The Federal Executive had also asked him to do that. According to the research association, Kalbitz ’statement to the committee should include several letters from the Höcker law firm, which represents the AfD politician in legal action against the BfV. In it, the list of members, it is said, is referred to as “forgery”.

So far, Kalbitz had only admitted from the numerous stations of his right-wing extremist biography what he absolutely could not deny. Kalbitz has always tried to talk himself out, judges Brandenburg’s chief of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Müller. That is apparently the strategy now.

According to the research association, Kalbitz tried to refute all allegations in the letter and summed up: “Before my AfD membership, I was never a member of an association classified as right-wing extremist or on the incompatibility list and / or part of ‘organized right-wing extremism’, insofar as one could objectively legal or formal official classification and not left-wing radical narrative and a completely unfree and totalitarian contact guilt principle follows. “

Already on Friday afternoon, the currently twelve-member AfD federal executive board, to which Kalbitz himself belongs, will deal with his statements. The agenda also includes checking the self-dissolution of the “wing”, which the federal executive board had also requested. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution should have a good look at all of this. It would be “the decisive yardstick,” said Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Müller, “how the AfD federal board deals with Kalbitz”.

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Right-wing extremist trend in the AfD: Party puts pressure on Kalbitz

“Wing” leader Andreas Kalbitz should list all political associations in which he was a member or with which he had contact.

Andreas Kalbitz’s far-right biography is not new. Now she’s bothering the AfD Photo: Michael Sohn / AP

BERLIN taz | The AfD increases the pressure on Andreas Kalbitz, head of state in Brandenburg and one of the two leaders of the “wing”. On Friday afternoon, the party’s federal executive decided in a conference call that Kalbitz had to “provide a list of the political organizations and associations in which he was a member or with whom he had been in contact – with details of the years and an explanation of the type of connection”. So it is in the draft minutes of the board meeting that the taz has. Kalbitz himself is a member of the committee.

In particular, Kalbitz is to explain his relationship to the home-loyal German youth (HDJ), the Young Landsmannschaft Ostpreußen and the Witikobund – all organizations from the extreme right-wing spectrum. The federal executive also demands a report on Kalbitz’s participation in a demonstration of the “Patriotic Alliance” in Athens in January 2007 and in events by “Flemish nationalists” from 1994 onwards.

Kalbitz was a member of the neo-Nazi organization

The demonstration in Athens was organized by a far-right alliance around the neo-Nazi party “Golden Dawn”, Kalbitz stayed in a hotel with German right-wing extremists. Among the guests was the then NPD leader Udo Voigt. Part of the group hoisted a swastika flag at the hotel.

The information about Kalbitz’s extreme right biography is not new. What is new, however, is that the AfD federal executive board demands comprehensive information about this. The background: In March the Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the “wing” as an extreme right. Authority chief Thomas Haldenwang said about Kalbitz and the other “wing” leader Björn Höcke: “Both people are right-wing extremists.”

In this context, it was also announced that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had proof that Kalbitz was also a member of the now banned neo-Nazi organization HDJ. “Family Andreas Kalbitz” was listed under membership number 01330, the first had mirror reported. The goal of the HDJ: to attract the future National Socialist elite.

Kalbitz’s exclusion from the party would be formally easy

“The accusations that a member of the federal executive board was a member of right-wing extremist associations and thus part of organized right-wing extremism massively damage the AfD’s reputation,” says the justification for the decision of the 13-member body. Party-damaging behavior would be a reason for exclusion.

Kalbitz should have given membership in the HDJ, which is now on the party’s list of exclusions, when he joined the AfD. However, because he did not do so, the Federal Executive Board could withdraw his membership by a simple majority; a complicated and lengthy party exclusion procedure would be unnecessary in his case. Kalbitz would be rid of all office immediately.

But it remains to be seen whether there will be any regulatory measures at all. The decision of the federal executive board was only narrowly passed – with seven yes votes, four against and two abstentions. He was brought in by Joachim Kuhs, who sits for the AfD in the European Parliament and is the chairman of the “Christians in the AfD”.

Höcke, who was invited to the conference call, got away without any precautions on Friday. The Thuringian head of state received only disapproval for his statements at a “wing” event in Schnellroda in early March. There Höcke had said about internal party opponents that they should be “sweated out” from the AfD. It was not the first time that Höcke had to justify statements before the federal executive board. So far, this has never had any real consequences. The “wing” wants to dissolve by pressure from the party by the end of the month. That won’t change much about his influence.

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